New England SCBWI Conference 2012 - thanks for the votes!

What a great conference! SCBWI New England really pulled it out of the bag this time.

3 great days at Springfield, MA. Over 500 attended and the faculty line up was amazing! Highlights included Harry Bliss, Dan Yaccarino, Harold Underdown, Kate Messner, Jane Yolen, Cynthia Lord, Brian Lies, Heidi Stemple, Jo Knowles ... on and on ... you can check out just what the line up was at

If you are hoping to write or illustrate for children - you can't do better than attend an SCBWI conference and New England is one of the best. In the three years I have been a member it's given me invaluable information, education, contacts and networking opportunities. And best of all - friends who relate to my goals and frustrations. So I say thank you to the organizers and volunteers!

I travelled with Russ Cox (friend and fellow illustrator) from Maine on Friday and it was straight into the deep end with a great 'meet and greet' with top-hole artists and writers at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst. (My first visit and a beautiful venue.)

Before we knew it Sunday rolled around ... and it was time to say goodbye. Russ and I returned to Maine in triumph ... Russ swept the board with two first prizes and the emerging artist award read his take ont he conference and his success here ... and not to be left out I won second prize in the People's Choice category!! Yippee for 'Boy and World '.


Right now my drawing board is overflowing with projects so I had better get my *** in gear.

I'll leave you with a few photos from the weekend and hope to meet you at a conference soon!

 Back in the studio today.

 With a great group of illustrators.
 Signing Casey Girard's Sketchbook Project

 At the Eric Carle Museum

With Harold Underdown and Jennifer Marsh Morris


Old Friends, New Friends PART 1

It's been a while. A lot has happened. And I felt that the blog needed a Spring clean, so I created a new header. What do you think?

So, first, goodbye to an old friend ...

Dessie passed away a couple of weeks ago after many months of suffering with congestive heart failure. She beat us to the final vet visit by passing peacefully the night before, and for this we were happy. No one likes to have to do the deed. Oddly enough it was the same night Liz Taylor trundled off this earthly plane, with the same condition. Who knows? Perhaps they're out there somewhere snuggled up on pillows.

We called Dessie the 'Pillow Princess', because she'd roll all the pillows on the sofa together and crawl into them ... or get up on the bed, as you see here, nesting contentedly. Although it is nice to have all our pillows where I put them, I can't help seeing a tidy sofa and filling up with tears. She had a good, long life - 20 years old. She was rescued from a trip to the pound by hubby, long before I arrived from England. Her favorite trick (apart from the pillow antics) was to dig out of the garden (typical beagle) and trot down to the store in the village and beg at the deli. The phone would ring eventually and I'd go and collect her.  For the last year or so she was my constant shadow, curled up on the futon behind me with her pillows. I still expect to see her when I turn around.

The other dogs (3) are grieving still. Takes them a while to adjust. Sleep the cat however is disturbed, because Dessie was his favorite dog to ambush. He's started accosting Sprout, but as she's blind and doesn't see him until he is upon her the thrill is not the same and the attacks are half-hearted.


NEW friends! Pretty much a couple of days after Dessie passed I left on a trip to attend the final weekend washup of the mentor programme I've been part of for the last six months. (My mentor was Priscilla Burris.) It was good to get away. The last three weeks nursing Dessie had really drained me, with the constant worry of whether it was 'time'. The warm days in Virginia City, NV, with a whole bunch of writers and illustrators were just what I needed. Here's the view from my window ...

I will be sharing 'Doing's in Virgina City' in another post (sounds a bit Alan Bennett-ish). So you have that to look forward to ... with more photographs.

Meanwhile, back at the artist's desk. The layouts are all finished for the 'Hidden New Jersey' book for Charlesbridge (wipes sweat from brow) - 'How to Talk to an Autistic Kid' is on sale - and I have begun the project with the very enthusiatic 4th grade at the local Corinna Elementary School - 5 weeks till we have to have a BOOK produced ... yikes!!

On the horizon - New England SCBWI conference in May, Fitchburg, MA. For this conference I will be entering the Poster Showcase - recreate a loved cover from a picture book or novel ... hmmm.

I also submitting for the Boston Library Association's Artist-in-Residence for 2011-2012 - my fingers are crossed, but I know the competition will be stiff.

Right now I am working on a TOP SECRET and EXCITING project - just something else I can't reveal yet. But if you love horses, you WILL love this. Tease tease tease.

Right. I need to go to the post office and send out some publicity for the Autistism Book. OH. If you would like a signed copy, let me know and I will let you know the cost (less than Amazon :-) )

Wait! I nearly forgot! PIXELSHAVINGS sent out their first postcard mailing as a group:

If you would like a postcard please send me a message also. My email is 

Toodles! - let me know what you think of the makeover :-).

The Wacky Brit

On the Bedside Table:
The Phantom Stallion - The Wild One - Terri Farley
The Phantom Stallion - Mustang Moon - Terri Farley
The Wierdstone of Brisingamen - Alan Garner
The Moon of Gomrath - Alan Garner
The Stone Book Quarter - Alan Garner
Eat My Dust, Henry Ford's First Race - Monica Kulling
All Aboard, Elijah McCoy's Steam Engine - Monica Kulling and Bill Slavin
1001 Children's Books you must read before you grow up - Quentin Blake and Julia Eccleshare
Mudkin - Stephen Gammell
Beautiful My Mane in the Wind - Catherine Petroski and Robert Andrew Parker
The Tales of Beedle the Bard - JK Rowling
You're Mean, Lily Jean - Frieda Wishinsky and Kady MacDonald Denton
Owl Moon - Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr

Blogging - a motivational tool?

Since January I have been blogging pretty much on a weekly basis. In the past I have always found it hard to keep up with a journal. I got bored. Somehow I was never comfortable with just writing down my stuff in a little book, and then putting it away in the nightstand drawer. In fact I found it downright embarrassing and oddly uncomfortable.

So why does it seem so much easier to blog? Is it because, on the odd occasion, someone, somewhere on the web reads my drivel and leaves me a comment? Totally narcissistic. But, you know, talking to what may (or may not) be an imaginary listener has really made me focus on what I am chattering on about. In the end of the week round up of news I look back on what I've achieved (or not)and what (if anything) I am looking forward to in the week to come.

When I re-read I have a real sense of what I was thinking about several months ago, and I can also see if what I planned went the way I thought it would or whether the tangents I zoomed off on have led me down a more interesting path.Perhaps this is just the same with a private diary, but blogging, well, you have to mean it somehow!

And therefore, in an odd way, the weekly blog is keeping me motivated. I like to have something to talk about and pictures to show you (and me!). And this blog-writing-time let's me gather my thoughts and gird my loins to get on with the tasks ahead.

When I started the blog I thought it would just be a way of letting people know about my illustrations and drawing. And 'something you have to do' in these technological days to build a so-called 'platform'. I had no idea I would ENJOY it.

I held out on Facebook for a long time too ... and now I love it (probably too much!) I have made some excellent contacts on FB, found new and sincere friends, and learned a great deal. It too is a source of inspiration and motivation.

Unlike a lot of bloggers, and many in the children's lit and illustration world, I am not good at gathering and sharing huge amounts of information and links and what-not. I just hope that my bumbling posts may help in some way other's on the same journey. I hope they make someone smile now and again and perhaps entertain.

But most of all I am thankful that I can make my art better and be a small part of this great tradition.

Right. Enough of the euphorics.

I went sailing this week! (Did you miss last week's blog?? TSK TSK) Here's a pic of the students I taught in an art cruise on Isaac H Evans Windjammer Cruise last week. They came from as far away as CA.

That's me in the middle with Capt Brenda. It was a great time ... we sailed around the Maine islands, but, oh, did the wind give us a good going over! I'll say! Here are few more of my sketches and photos ...

 You can find more on my FaceBook Fan Page.

I am still working on the 4 math PB layouts ... 2 down, 2 to go. I have had some great feedback from a few cool illustrators and writers and I thank them bunches for their help! It never fails to surprise me how nice folks in the children's illustration world are ...

Oh yes, the MANUSCRIPT is here for THE BOOK I will be working on this next couple o' months. So this weekend I will going over it and planning out the spreads. Really looking forward to getting my teeth into it.

Tomorrow off to see an exhibition of Whistler's prints in Waterville, Maine with some other artists, so that will feed the mind.

And before I forget, maybe you will tune in (or download) Red River Radio prog I am on next week chatting about illustration ... here is the link ....Dellanis Tea Time

Cheerio till next time!
aka The Wacky Brit

PS .. nothing new on the bedside table ... oops.